a woman's hand

As she approached her 20th birthday, Jinho Lee* (MAICS ’17) felt a strong sense in her heart that she needed to make a big decision. “But I had no idea what it was,” she says. Days before she turned 20, at a church summer camp, a pastor preached a message and shared his own story of how God had called him to be a minister. Jinho sat at the back of the room with a handful of other college students, but when the pastor invited people forward to commit to full-time ministry, she heard a clear voice in her head that said, “This is the big decision I want you to make.”

“I was so surprised, but I obeyed and walked to the front,” says Jinho, who didn’t know at the time the exact kind of ministry she was pledging herself to—or how far her commitment would take her from her native Taiwan. But in that moment, she felt certain: she needed to say yes.

A week later, a visiting pastor at her church approached her during a time of prayer. This pastor told Jinho that she felt God urging her to pray for her. Laying hands on Jinho, she spoke the words, “God is calling you to mission.”

Jinho was familiar by then with global missions and ministry. In the summer before entering university, she’d served for two months on one of Operation Mobilisation’s ministry ships, which made stops at multiple ports across three different countries in Southeast Asia. She’d also had a college internship that focused on local community transformation and development. The call to a full-time vocation in mission, however, was a call she needed to process. Jinho had experienced enough to recognize the difficulties missionaries both faced and, oftentimes, caused. She says, “I observed that people would just go, just jump into the ocean and then learn how to swim.” While she acknowledges this method works for some, she felt cautious about the reality that unprepared missionaries can harm more than help the people they’re meant to serve. “I wanted to be a missionary who helped, who really empowered the local community.”

If God was calling her to missions, she believed her next faithful step should be to seek training and education to do missions well. She applied to Fuller’s School of Intercultural Studies and got accepted, but she deferred enrollment for a year to raise the money required to attend and make the costly transcontinental move. “People who go overseas to study are usually upper class,” Jinho says, explaining that she fell into a much humbler socioeconomic category. As she raised support, she was also met with pushback from others who asked why she didn’t instead find a job that supported her family at home. Others encouraged her to study at a Taiwanese seminary instead. Jinho spent the year in careful discernment about whether God’s call to her actually meant making the trek abroad. She knew she wanted to study missiology specifically—which was not an available degree in Taiwanese seminaries. When she hadn’t come close to her financial goal after months of fundraising, she reminded herself to fully surrender her future to God. “God, no matter which door you open, I will obey,” she prayed. “It’s your will and your call.” The day after that prayer, with the matter out of her hands, she received an email from Fuller: she was a recipient of a new scholarship that would cover half a year’s tuition. She says, “I knew that was confirmation.”

Jerome Blanco

Jerome Blanco (MDiv ’16) is the editor in chief of FULLER magazine

Lindsey Sheets

Lindsey Sheets is video editor, colorist, and photographer for FULLER studio.

As she approached her 20th birthday, Jinho Lee* (MAICS ’17) felt a strong sense in her heart that she needed to make a big decision. “But I had no idea what it was,” she says. Days before she turned 20, at a church summer camp, a pastor preached a message and shared his own story of how God had called him to be a minister. Jinho sat at the back of the room with a handful of other college students, but when the pastor invited people forward to commit to full-time ministry, she heard a clear voice in her head that said, “This is the big decision I want you to make.”

“I was so surprised, but I obeyed and walked to the front,” says Jinho, who didn’t know at the time the exact kind of ministry she was pledging herself to—or how far her commitment would take her from her native Taiwan. But in that moment, she felt certain: she needed to say yes.

A week later, a visiting pastor at her church approached her during a time of prayer. This pastor told Jinho that she felt God urging her to pray for her. Laying hands on Jinho, she spoke the words, “God is calling you to mission.”

Jinho was familiar by then with global missions and ministry. In the summer before entering university, she’d served for two months on one of Operation Mobilisation’s ministry ships, which made stops at multiple ports across three different countries in Southeast Asia. She’d also had a college internship that focused on local community transformation and development. The call to a full-time vocation in mission, however, was a call she needed to process. Jinho had experienced enough to recognize the difficulties missionaries both faced and, oftentimes, caused. She says, “I observed that people would just go, just jump into the ocean and then learn how to swim.” While she acknowledges this method works for some, she felt cautious about the reality that unprepared missionaries can harm more than help the people they’re meant to serve. “I wanted to be a missionary who helped, who really empowered the local community.”

If God was calling her to missions, she believed her next faithful step should be to seek training and education to do missions well. She applied to Fuller’s School of Intercultural Studies and got accepted, but she deferred enrollment for a year to raise the money required to attend and make the costly transcontinental move. “People who go overseas to study are usually upper class,” Jinho says, explaining that she fell into a much humbler socioeconomic category. As she raised support, she was also met with pushback from others who asked why she didn’t instead find a job that supported her family at home. Others encouraged her to study at a Taiwanese seminary instead. Jinho spent the year in careful discernment about whether God’s call to her actually meant making the trek abroad. She knew she wanted to study missiology specifically—which was not an available degree in Taiwanese seminaries. When she hadn’t come close to her financial goal after months of fundraising, she reminded herself to fully surrender her future to God. “God, no matter which door you open, I will obey,” she prayed. “It’s your will and your call.” The day after that prayer, with the matter out of her hands, she received an email from Fuller: she was a recipient of a new scholarship that would cover half a year’s tuition. She says, “I knew that was confirmation.”

Written By

Jerome Blanco (MDiv ’16) is the editor in chief of FULLER magazine

Lindsey Sheets is video editor, colorist, and photographer for FULLER studio.

abstract image
abstract image

At Fuller, Jinho shaped her degree with intention. She took classes on children at risk with Dave Scott, studied poverty and development with Bryant Myers, and learned about urban ministry under Jude Tiersma Watson. She thought often about the skills she wanted to develop for her own future ministry and feasted on Fuller’s course offerings. All of it was hard work: Jinho had never studied in a completely English setting. “I was studying three times as much as I did in Taiwan because of the language,” she says, and she did so on top of working part-time, alongside continuing to fundraise through her networks in the States and in Taiwan.

She learned to ground herself, however, in both spiritual rest and loving community—both of which proved to be immensely formative. Jinho spent time in the campus prayer garden every morning before going to the library. And she found many friends, particularly in Fuller’s community of other international students. “It was like being back on Operation Mobilisation’s ship!” she says. “I really felt like I was in the right place, with people caring for me.”

The combination of her classes and community continually shaped her understanding of God’s call for her. Jinho discovered a passion for working on the “supportive end” of missions. “My skills are in training, and I like to see missionaries equipped so they don’t do harm in the community. I like to see the local community given enough resources to be empowered.” Leaning into this feeling, she prayed a specific prayer: “God, help me learn about the HR side of Christian nonprofits.” Not long after, at a career fair on campus, she connected with a small international organization focused on ministry in East Africa. She ended up with a part-time role in their HR department before eventually joining World Vision International, where she currently works.

At World Vision, Jinho has had a hand in various aspects of international recruitment. Besides bringing administrative talent and helping to develop their recruitment and onboarding processes, she’s worked with assignees from around the world and prepared them to serve in the various countries to which they’re called. Jinho primarily walks alongside teams and assignees serving in fragile contexts such as Syria, Haiti, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and more—regions where children in particular are vulnerable due to war and political unrest.

As she finds herself communicating with people in at least five different countries per day, Jinho is discovering that her experience as an immigrant, who has traversed continents and has spent time in multicultural spaces, makes her uniquely fit for the job. She explains that her background, along with the classes she took at Fuller, strengthened her “cultural intelligence,” which is essential for her work with people of different backgrounds from all over the globe.

Beyond fostering formal administrative relationships, Jinho makes it a point to invest in her international connections through both prayer and friendship. She stresses the many sacrifices assignees make in leaving home behind to serve with an organization like World Vision International; making time to pray with them opens up doors for people to share freely about their experiences.

Jinho shares that a man she’d been working with in Central Africa was moved by their time of prayer. He told Jinho that “when you prayed for me, I felt like God called me to the right place.” He’d served in the humanitarian sector for many years but had never been prayed for in his work context before. Jinho tells another story of a woman—about the same age as her—who had a one-year-old at the time. When the pandemic pushed this woman’s country into a strict lockdown, Jinho thought to send her an email with a link to the San Diego Zoo’s livestream of animals—in hopes it would be a restful and distracting activity for mother and child. Later that day, as she and Jinho exchanged messages, they discovered that they’d both been watching the same elephants at the very same time just an hour before, while being continents away from each other. “It was a very sweet moment!” Jinho says. “We built a good friendship, and I’ve never even met her in person.”

To Jinho, these small, daily acts are important to the task of faithful mission. She says that everyday she asks God, “How am I bringing glory with what I do?” In all this, she recognizes the continuation of God’s call to her those many years ago. She’s discovering her passion for being a bridge-builder and the ways God uses it for global missions. “I always link people. It comes naturally to me,” she says, with hopes that she’ll continue to learn how to develop that gift. From where she lives in California, Jinho is now connected to what God is doing across the nations.

During her commencement week at Fuller, the School of Intercultural Studies hosted a dinner to celebrate their graduates, and Jinho was asked to speak. The short message she shared with her classmates was a reminder that no matter where they each went from there, “our yes is to God.” She says, “Wherever I go, my yes is to where God leads me.” She doesn’t know where God will call her next—to what specific place or people group or other area of mission—but her prayer is that she will continue to be faithful, to go where God calls, to say yes.

*Because of her potential future work in missions, she has asked to use a pseudonym and not show her face, for security reasons.

Up Next
Fuller Magazine

Amos Yong, Dean of the Schools of Theology and Intercultural Studies, introduces this issue’s theme of being and living in between.